Irish people paying €600m more in health bills than in 2007

Austerity measures mean every adult spends extra €130 a year on healthcare, conference hears

Irish people are paying € 600 million more for essential drugs and hospital care today than they were in 2007, a seminar on health policy has been told.

An increase in the financial barriers to accessing healthcare during austerity has forced each person to pay €130 more than they did in 2007 to get the same level of care, according to Dr Steve Thomas of TCD's centre for health policy and management.

This process needs to be reversed as the economy expands and financial barriers dismantled, he said.

Along with other researchers at the centre, Dr Thomas presented early results from a project mapping the pathways to the provision of universal healthcare, as promised by the Government.


Researchers found a huge gap between the intent of providing a universal service and the reality, with people experiencing greater difficulty now in accessing healthcare because of longer waiting times and higher drug charges.

Progress toward universal healthcare is in disarray after a series of delays and deferrals of policy moves, according to their analysis.

While free GP care for under-6s and over-70s has been introduced, the policy of universal health insurance has been shelved and measures such as increased prescription drug charges and the introduction of lifetime community rating in private health insurance have made the system less universal.

Research fellow Dr Sara Burke said: "Political choices can move us closer or further away from universal healthcare.

“Despite commitments to universalism from the current government, policy analysis and indicators shows us Ireland has failed to move closer to it since 2011, apart from the delivery of free GP care to the youngest and oldest”.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times